Do you or a loved one seem to have a hard time participating in conversation when there is a lot of background noise? Is it embarrassing to keep asking people to repeat themselves? Have you changed your lifestyle because of hearing limitations? These are all common complaints of people suffering from hearing loss, but the good news is that the loss can be helped and sometimes even prevented.
The two most common causes of hearing loss are noise exposure and aging. Workplace noise exposure is regulated much more closely now than in times past. Precautions on time exposure and the use of protective devices like ear plugs and muffs have significantly reduced occupational exposure as a cause of hearing loss.
Unfortunately, people frequently are not as rigorous in protecting themselves in their leisure time. The unprotected use of firearms, lawn equipment, personal audio devices and even car stereos can cause permanent hearing loss. The two critical elements to noise induced hearing loss are the length of time exposure and the volume of the sound. A 90 dB sound can be tolerated for 8 hours before damage is expected, but a 100 dB sound can cause harm in 2 hours and a 110 dB sound in 30 minutes. By simply using ear muffs or properly fitted ear plugs the wearer may decrease their noise exposure by about 20 dB, thus enabling them to work in a 110 dB noise for an extra 7.5 hours before damage occurs! In addition to simple ear plugs and muffs that you can pick up at a hardware store, it is also possible to get professionally made musician’s or hunter’s ear plugs that allow the listener to hear well and yet protect the ear from loud sound.
Healthy hearing tip #1:
Always protect your ears from loud sound, because once the damage is done it cannot be reversed.
The other common cause of hearing loss is the aging process and affects two thirds of the population. Certainly there is some inherited component to age related loss, but a healthy lifestyle can help prevent increasing the severity. A healthy diet that limits exposure to diabetes and atherosclerosis and a low salt diet in people with high blood pressure will help prevent collateral damage to the cochlea or inner ear. A correlation between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss has been shown and people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing issues.
Healthy hearing tip #2:
Take care of your body and your ears will work better in the long run!
In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one feels that there is a problem with hearing, the first step in getting help is to see your physician and get an ear exam. Should the results demonstrate a significant hearing loss, help is frequently available in the form of hearing amplification. Studies have shown a significant increase in the level of isolation, depression and even dementia in people affected by hearing loss. Hearing really is an important part of your brain health, but despite the fact that hearing aids benefit more than 80% of the people who get them, a large number of individuals with potentially correctable hearing never seek assistance. And yet it is so easy to get help!
Because hearing loss is so slowly progressive, people tend to underestimate how bad their hearing has become. Once the decision is made to get hearing aids, your audiologist works closely with you to pick the right device. This can be a tricky proposition in the world of rapidly changing technology. It is always a good idea to be prepared to share what specific problems you're having so they can help choose the right devices for your lifestyle. Over time as your hearing may change, your audiologist will continue to adjust your aids as required, optimizing your rewards from wearing them.
Healthy hearing tip #3:
When you or a loved one are having trouble hearing — get help!